What is a South Carolina Registered Agent?
A Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail and notices on behalf of your South Carolina LLC.
Legal mail (called Service of Process) is sent if your LLC is involved in a lawsuit. Additionally, the state may send notices and reminders to your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their Registered Agent service free for the 1st year.
South Carolina Registered Agents should be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm), Monday through Friday.
And the Registered Agent for your LLC in South Carolina must have a physical street address in South Carolina. PO Box addresses aren’t allowed.
Note: Most states use the term “Registered Agent”, but some use the terms “Resident Agent” or “Statutory Agent”. They all mean the same thing and we may use these terms interchangeably.
Does South Carolina require a Registered Agent?
Yes, South Carolina requires all business entities to list a Registered Agent on their LLC formation paperwork. And they must keep a Registered Agent on file with the state for the life of the LLC.
Why do I need a Registered Agent in South Carolina?
The purpose of a Registered Agent is to accept Service of Process in case your business gets sued. And the court needs proof that your LLC received the legal documents.
That’s why each business entity (like a Limited Liability Company or Corporation) must have a Registered Agent on file with the state.
Said another way, your LLC’s Registered Agent is a key component of how the court and legal systems work. By requiring all South Carolina LLCs to keep a Registered Agent on file with the state, the delivery of court documents can be properly tracked.
Who can be my Registered Agent in South Carolina?
You actually have 3 options for who can be your South Carolina Registered Agent:
- a friend or family member
- a South Carolina Registered Agent Service
You can save money by being the Registered Agent for your LLC, but there are some risks.
What are the risks?
The risks of being your own South Carolina Registered Agent are:
- missing an important notice from the state
- administrative dissolution
- missing Service of Process (and potential legal consequences)
These issues are more likely to occur if you:
- move and forget to update your address with the state
- travel or leave town for extended periods of time
- don’t have a reliable address
- don’t keep up with your mail
We’ll explain a few of these risks below.
Missing an important notice from the state
Your business needs to promptly receive all important notices sent by the South Carolina Secretary of State or any other state agency.
Notices sent by state agencies often have actions that your LLC must take by a certain deadline. And in some cases, there are penalties and fees if you miss those deadlines.
If you are the Registered Agent for your LLC, and you move without updating your Registered Agent address, the South Carolina Secretary of State can dissolve (shut down) your LLC.
To clarify, the state isn’t looking over your LLC every single day, so this potential administrative dissolution won’t automatically happen if you don’t update your Registered Agent information.
However, if the state finds out that your Registered Agent address isn’t up-to-date, and they can’t reach you, then they could shut down your LLC.
If there is a lawsuit against your LLC, a process server will make multiple attempts to serve your LLC (deliver the court documents).
However, if they are unable to serve your LLC in person, Service of Process can be made another way (like through Certified Mail). This can mean the court notices and/or documents were “delivered” to you, even if you didn’t physically receive them.
Then the person suing your LLC can argue their case without you being there to defend your LLC. In these situations, the person suing your LLC usually wins and the court enters a default judgment against your business.
Contempt of Court
If there is a lawsuit that involves your LLC, the parties might serve your business with a subpoena. The subpoena may ask you to testify in a hearing, or to produce records.
If you don’t respond to the subpoena, you can be held in contempt of court. This can lead to fines, or the court can issue a bench warrant. This means the sheriff can come seize the records or force you to show up in court.
So should I be my own Registered Agent?
You certainly can. While there are risks of being your own Registered Agent in South Carolina, they don’t come up very often. And you can save money by being your own South Carolina Registered Agent.
Having said that, hiring a professional Registered Agent Service can provide additional benefits, such as address privacy.
Registered Agent Information is Public Record in South Carolina
While you (or a friend or family member) can be your LLC’s Registered Agent, you may not want to have a home address listed on public record.
The information you enter in your Articles of Organization (including the Registered Agent’s address) becomes public record with the South Carolina Secretary of State.
Not only is your Registered Agent’s information searchable by the public, but other websites download the state’s records and republish them on their own website. Then things begin to spread as other public record websites take that same information and list it on their websites too (and the process repeats itself).
Pretty soon your address is listed on many websites and people can easily find it by doing a Google search.
If you’d like to keep your address off public records, we have a strategy for this.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many business owners in South Carolina start businesses from their homes. So you should be aware that the Registered Agent’s name and address on your LLC Articles of Organization gets listed on public records.
If you want to keep your address off public records, you can hire a South Carolina Registered Agent Service that will allow you to use their address throughout your Articles of Organization.
Northwest Registered Agent offers this unique service at no additional cost.
There are many South Carolina Registered Agents out there, but we have found Northwest to be the best Registered Agent Service available.
What’s the best South Carolina Registered Agent option to choose?
Choosing the best South Carolina Registered Agent option for your business depends on a few factors.
- you are a resident of South Carolina, and
- you have a physical address in South Carolina.
You also should be comfortable with your address being listed on public records.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you want to save money (since you won’t need to hire a South Carolina Registered Agent Service).
Friend or Family:
A friend or family member can be your South Carolina Registered Agent if:
- they are a resident of South Carolina, and
- they have a physical address in South Carolina
They also should be comfortable with their address being listed on public records.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you aren’t a resident of South Carolina, but want to save money (since you won’t need to hire a South Carolina Registered Agent Service).
Professional Registered Agent Service:
A South Carolina Registered Agent Service (aka Commercial Registered Agent) is a company that specializes in receiving mail and Service of Process for your LLC.
South Carolina Registered Agent Services usually charge $100 to $300 per year. After they receive mail for your LLC, they’ll forward it to you or upload it to your online account.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you:
- don’t live in South Carolina
- don’t have a friend or family member’s address to use
- won’t be available during normal business hours to receive mail, or
- don’t want your address listed in the Articles of Organization
If you’d like to hire a Registered Agent Service, the company we recommend is Northwest Registered Agent.
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the Registered Agent Service we use) for a few reasons:
- they’ve been in business for over 20 years
- their customer service agents are LLC experts, and
- they let you use their Registered Office address in your entire LLC filing (to keep yours off public record)
Special discounted pricing for LLC University readers
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form an LLC. However, we’ve negotiated a discounted rate (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
South Carolina Registered Agent FAQs
If you want to hire a Registered Agent Service, it will cost between $100 and $300 per year.
Instead, it’s often better to google “Registered Agent in South Carolina”, read reviews, and make phone calls to check if their services are a good match for your LLC.
However, we know that this can still be a headache, so we’ve reviewed the top Registered Agent Services in South Carolina for you.
Check out the FAQ below to find the best Commercial Registered Agent for your South Carolina LLC!
- Northwest Registered Agent
- Our #1 recommendation for privacy
- Harbor Compliance
- Rocket Lawyer
To learn more about how these companies compare against each other, check out Best Registered Agent Services.
Note: If you want to save money, you can be the Registered Agent for your South Carolina LLC.
What do you think?
Can you take 10 seconds and rate this lesson?
South Carolina Secretary of State: Service of Process
South Carolina Secretary of State: Registered Agent Search
South Carolina Secretary of State: FAQs About Business Entities
South Carolina Legislature: Chapter 44 (LLC Act) of Title 33
South Carolina Legislature: Code of Laws Title 15, Chapter 9
South Carolina Judicial Branch: Rule 4 of the Rules of Civil Procedure